I do have another I-am-an-illiterate-antelope confession:
I keep saying “Trail By Fire”, which makes me think the book is about a mountain hike along a twisty trail or a ponyride. Yes. It’s sad.
Thank you Pan Macmillan AUS for the review-copy! Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini hit shelves in August, 2014.
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted…which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.
Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.
Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.
But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?
I literally have only good things to tell you about this book!
How’s that?! It’s absolutely crazy, right?! There’s a few things I may or may not whinge about, but they’re all so microscopic and variable…pfft. Don’t even listen to me. Just drop everything and go read this now. Unless, of course, you’re carrying something precious like a small child or chocolate cake. Then don’t drop everything right away.
It’s basically a evilly delicious tale about magic, jumping-through-multiple-worlds, science, fire, and the occasional pickle.
I’m not joking. Pickles feature. Mostly science and magic. I was impressed with the combo of sciencey magic, although (I have to admit) if you even say “biology” in my hearing, my eyes sort of glaze over and I think about pickles and sandwiches. I just don’t get science. I do try, occasionally, but to no avail. So that was a bit of a downer for me, but the awesome twist on magic and witches made up for it. The book has it’s own rules for magic and they’re unique and amazing. I love it when books are original!
Basically we get thrown into a completely different world.
It can be challenging to keep up with. The book has a theory that there are millions of versions of our world. Our bonnie main character, Lily, gets tossed into an alternate universe. SO. You’d imagine everything would be different, right? It is. Completely. Which is awesome, but a bit overwhelming and there’s lots of explaining.
You know what I liked about it though? For once, this alternate world DID NOT follow a lot of the average prejudices that most fantasy worlds haul out of our world. They ditch sexism! Hurrah! This world has different values and levels of what’s acceptable, honourable, intimate, and edible. That last one is kind of interesting at times. Can I just shout: REFRESHING?!!
The dialogue is epic too!
FINALLY. GOOD DIALOGUE. It’s funny and deep and realistic. But you know me: laughing is important. Hang on a sec, just awarding the book extra shiny stickers.
It also quoted this (which makes it insta-awesome and is highly applicable):
So the characters? You want to hear about them right?
WELL. First off we have Lily, who is highly allergic to…everything. I totally related to her on that, even though I’m not hyper allergic, I’ve always had allergies. I’m the person who avoids you if you’re wearing hairspray.
But then Lily bops into the alternate world where another version of her, Lilian, is an evil and very powerful witch. It’s soooo much more complicated. Everybody’s actions dance in a grey area. So freakishly awesome.
In the Alternate World, Lily joins up with three incredibly awesome dudes. You think it’d be an insta-love-triangle or something, right? Well, yes, she is sort of attracted to two of the guys, BUT IT’S DIFFERENT. It’s somehow not tacky or frustrating or irritating. I absolutely loved Lily, and I adored the three guys (Rowan, Tristan and Caleb).
Basically it’s like this:
The dynamics of the foursome reminded me of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Everyone was friends first and then the romances built off that. So awesome. And they were all so well fleshed out and well written! Rowan was totally swoonworthy, but cranky and a little mysterious. (Also a fabulous cook, which I greatly admire.) And Tristan was very smiling and light and winning. Caleb was brute force, good to have around. They just meshed together all so well!
So what are my peeves?
They’re small, really not worth mentioning, but YOU’RE DYING TO KNOW. I, personally, feel the cover is a bit off. I love it! Don’t get me wrong! But I thought it was a romantic contemporary when I first saw it. The USA cover (on the right, below) isn’t much better (hey, don’t spear me if you like it). It feels too generic and grey.
Oh and THE ENDING IS AN AWFUL CLIFFHANGER.
Awful terrible horrible and mean. (A moaning phrase here, which means: “I loved it so much.”) Excuse me, I’m just going to collapse sobbing. I need the sequel. I need it quite badly, I will probably even stomp my foot Wicked Witch of the West style.
I can’t wait for the next book!
And if you’re looking for a fantasy that focus on a) the world building, b) awesome dialogue c) really well fleshed out characters, and d) pickles: THEN THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.
I’m kidding, really, about the pickles. It mentions them like once, but they do save lives.
Also, the reason I desperately wanted to read Trail by Fire I blame on Charnell @ Reviews From A Bookworm! She raved about it and because I flail with her on so many of her ratings, I’m pretty sure she can do no wrong. You’re the best, yes.